Some gardeners do everything by the book. Others wing it and watch, but Myrtle Green just has a green thumb for producing beautiful plants.
The 65-year-old retired Brac social worker rolled up her sleeves to transform her neighbour’s garden into a lush tropical wonderland.
“From a child, I always loved to plant … my father had more than a green thumb, he had a green hand … I guess I just inherited his love of nature and the earth,” said Green.
She said she moved to Cayman Brac years ago from Jamaica to work as a caregiver with Brac resident Ronnie Tibbetts. After Tibbetts died, Green got a job with the Cayman Brac Children and Family Services and, in later years, worked at Faith Hospital before retiring with a back injury.
To do something meaningful after retiring, she started gardening around her own home. It was not until she met neighbour Julie Hislop’s two grandchildren raiding her guinep tree that her gardening hobby would really take root.
The children could not wait to get back home to tell grandma how they had caught Green whispering, watering and lovingly talking to her plants to get them to grow and blossom, and she must get her to do the same for their garden.
Hislop paid Green a visit and they talked. Before she left, Hislop asked Green if she would take care of and water her plants while she made visits to Grand Cayman. Green agreed.
Over the next couple of weeks, Green kept herself busy watering the plants every day. When Hislop returned, she was impressed with the work Green had done and gave her the job on a permanent basis.
It was a gardener’s dream come true for Green. She began growing everything she could – pumpkins, beans, cucumbers, herbs, tomatoes, sunflowers, elephant ears and periwinkles, as well as sunflowers that towered 4-5 feet tall, desert roses, Easter lilies and lots more.
Her only tools are a gardener’s fork, clippers, a little shovel and a stool to sit on because of her bad back, Green said.
Hislop’s garden soon became the envy of plant enthusiasts on the Brac.
She said the garden shows off the beautiful old house, built in 1929 by her father Aston Rutty.
Green said most of her plants come from plant clippings sourced around the community, and she gets bulbs from the garden store.
“If you do something and you don’t put love and your heart into it, it will not come to anything,” she said.
Green uses no harmful pesticides in her garden. To get rid of garden bugs and lice infestations, she plants scallions among the vegetable plants. She also uses raw garlic blended into a sticky paste, mixed with water and placed into a bottle to spray the plants.
She waters her plants every day during the hot summer months.